The Grief Walk

Image result for griefAs a nurse, I experience many emotions with families that cross my path. The spectrum involved in one day can sometimes be dizzying and is often exhausting. The powerful emotions surrounding loss can easily overwhelm even the most veteran nurses when tragic loss arrives during a “normal” work day, unannounced and uninvited. A chaplain offers a prayer, nurses gather to cry and hug, and then the serving resumes. We proceed through our shifts and appear to be unscathed…but loss always leaves a mark, whether acknowledged or not. The grieving process is the healing process. As nurses we talk through our losses. We manage them alone at night while the rest of the world sleeps. The goal being to walk all the way through the grief and experience healing that can then ignite deeper compassion and nursing care that promotes true health and wellness for our patients as well as ourselves.

Our response to loss initiates an extensive ripple effect through our lives. It is worth acknowledging and discussing. I think people don’t understand how many losses are really experienced throughout life. Things that we may think are “just a part of life” create losses/wounds that need to be grieved. It is easier to disregard the impact of loss then to address the emotions of these difficult times. Left alone, these emotions destroy us. They build up and become distorted and impact us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. However, when we are willing to grieve and walk through the pain and out on the other side, we transform a gaping wound to a small scar. We can lift our heads and embrace a new normal.

So why have I brought up such an uplifting topic? My work allows me to see new life coming into the world every shift, and I wonder what lies ahead for these small miracles that have landed in this family called the human race. Hatred seems to be growing like a forest fire after a drought and I have to wonder…is this a ripple from grief and loss that have not been healed but rather passed down through generations? When the response to tragedy is finding someone to blame…a seed of hatred is planted. When the response to loss is jealousy of others who haven’t experienced that same loss…seeds of contempt and entitlement are planted. When the response to loss is isolation and self-pity…seeds of bitterness and resentment are planted. Destructive coping skills can impact families through generations and create deep chasms of pain in stone hearts. These hearts turn into nations imploding.

Loss is a given, but grieving and healing areImage result for grief choices and not mandatory. When we acknowledge our feelings and our grief, we are accepting the hurt and pain that come from the healing process. We must be vulnerable and welcome uncertainty and that is not in our comfort zone. However, the beauty is that as we journey, we grow and develop new skills. We meet others that reach back to aid us in our assent. And we stop the bleeding and heal. Then we can turn around and extend a hand to others with soft hearts and eyes filled with tenderness instead of hatred. I have walked a few roads that involved extreme loss and I have many scars. These times were dark, heavy, and oppressive. I would not want to experience them again. But the emotional stamina, faith, strength, confidence, hope, and clarity of thinking that I have today were all developed and nurtured during the grief walks of my life. Now, my scars offer common ground when others that are hurting. Ripples of empathy and non-judgmental kindness instead of hatred, bitterness, and pain are the result.

Take a moment and think about losses you have experienced. Some will be enormous, like loss of trust or control from an abusive situation or loss of a loved one or wayward child. Some may seem insignificant like the loss of a pet or a friend moving away. All loss leaves a mark. When kids move away we experience loss. When we retire there are losses to address. When loved ones pass and there are no answers, the loss is immense. We all experience loss and must choose our responses carefully.

I pray for you today as you read this blog. My journey has led me to a deep faith in God that sustains me each day. I know that He can be trusted and is my unwavering foundation of security no matter what losses come my way. Maybe I just lost you there. Maybe you have been hurt by something that happened to you at church or someone’s actions who said they were a Christian. I understand and I truly am sorry. My prayer is that you take it up with God. His shoulders are big enough and He can handle even the most rambunctious human heart. This is encouragement for healing, a hand reaching back, an acknowledgment of need. Please stop the bleeding and find rest and peace.

 

 

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

 

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